The eight of us continue our day as it has always been - school, lunch, naps, Russian, laundry, outside play time - and at five Brandon finishes work. He comes down from upstairs to help with dinner, and we all have are usual quiet evenings together.
Up until this week, Tashkent hasn't looked terribly different than normal. But at the beginning of the week, the Uzbek government shut down all places of public gathering - restaurants, malls, salons - and by mid-week everyone was required to wear masks in public. By Friday all non-essential stores were shut down, and today all private cars were banned from the road.
Our piano teacher was the first to leave us. When the embassy evacuated those who wanted to leave, she was on the plane with her family. Our Thursday afternoons got quieter.
Next was the milk lady, who didn't show up on Wednesday. We had heard that the roads in and out of Tashkent had been closed on Tuesday, so I imagine she got caught out of town with jugs full of fresh milk. We don't have her phone number, so we don't know.
The ban on private cars has now deprived us of our housekeeper, pool guy, and horseback riding lessons all in one go. Our Russian lessons will continue, but via Zoom.
When I think of all nine of us, locked up behind our wall, I think of the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when Grandpa Joe is telling Charlie about Willy Wonka's chocolate factory being shut up. "But nobody's gone in! The gates are locked! It's crazy! Nobody ever comes out, either!"
A friend and I were talking earlier about trying to figure out how things will go in this crazy new paradigm. Who knew back in January that March would find us all huddled in our houses, with whole countries shutting down? Where will April find us? How about May? There's no way for anyone to know, and everyone is left making wild guesses based on a very short timeline of facts.
I do know that one day the gates will open again, the cars will resume their flow, and our house will be filled again with comings and goings. Lessons will resume, friends will return, life will start to look similar to what it was before. This time will become, as all times become, a memory. But for now, we are all holding our breath, wondering when the exhale will come.